Apple has apparently won a victory in preserving the privacy of iPhone users. Previously, even if an iOS device was secured with a password, police could use the GrayKey unlocking tool to access the contents. But that changed with iOS 12.
This hacking tool reportedly became nearly useless with the release of Apple’s latest operating system.
Apple hasn’t found the security holes that iPhone unlocking tools use, but iOS 11.3 took a step that makes these cracking devices less useful. Police now have a limited amount of time to circumvent the user’s passcode before it becomes impossible.
This is part of an ongoing struggle between Apple and law enforcement agencies. The iPhone maker wants to protect the privacy of users, while police want access to information stored on devices used in crimes.
Police around the country are buying and using iPhone unlocking tools like GrayKey. These allow access to the contents of encrypted devices involved in crimes.
GrayKey is fairly expensive, and its maker can’t guarantee how long it will work. It depends on a iOS security flaw known only to its maker, and Apple could close this hole at any time. Nevertheless, law enforcement agencies are taking the risk.
The FBI dropped its case against Apple to hack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, but the Department of Justice filed a new letter today demanding Apple help it unlock a different iPhone.
The iPhone in question belonged to meth deal Jun Feng in New York. Federal authorities believe the device may contain critical evidence and plan to appeal a ruling made by a magistrate judge in Brooklyn who decided the government can’t force Apple to hack its own device.
In its letter of appeal, the DoJ argues that because Apple helped prosecutors unlock at least 70 iPhones in the past, the company should do it again.